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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

Defend the Sacred

On April 16th I successfully defended my Masters in Creative Writing Thesis: Break Horizons: A Rocking Indigenous Justice Ceremony. I handed in my last assignment, got my grades and can say I have completed my Masters with an A+ avg!


It was a delightfully talented crew in attendance at the online defence with artists, producers and creatives from cross Turtle Island. On my committee was Danielle Geller, Gregory Scofield and of course coach , Kevin Kerr. It was a challenge to fit 110 pages and 4 years of work into a 20 mins presentation - and I went over - and I would do it again! We also had one of The Healing Company's sound Directors Adrian Glynn perform 2 songs from the ceremony and I somewhat successfully got the power point to go to the next slides.


Speaking of slides! Want to see a few?


This first slide is a quote that I've have on my white board in my living room since 2017. I always knew Break was going to be about a prison but in my narrative stacking style, we journey deeper into the story to recognize the ceremony is really for every witness/audience member to acknowledge and give conscious attention to the imperial capitalistic ways of thinking that imprisons us on a daily basis and ignite them to courageously set themselves free.


I honoured that this could not be where it is at without the artistic abilities and talents of The Healing Company. Featured in the photo is costume and regalia member Sabrina Pollitt (Aka. Scarlet Delirium) dressed in her latex orca burlesque costume that caught my attention a few years ago.



I gave space to speak to the spherical creation method that I'm using that goes beyond the script - which you can read more about this paradigm here. I spoke to the narrative structure being that of a sweat and that not everyone has the capacities to finish the rounds. Sharing that some leave before the ceremony is complete, usually due to their discomfort but for me, my commitments bond me to the work for my past and future Ancestors. That my own discomfort can never be greater than The Work of artistic stewardship and environmental cultural action.


In the photo is the students on my Rez Upper Nicola who sang me a couple drum songs when I visited during Kamloopa, illuminating the "script" and "production" is but one element of the artistic legal order. In the centre is my Great Grandmother Harriet and Grandmother Susan Harvey and on the right are my cuzzins - doing some intergen knowledge sharing about ceremonial sweat practices.



And I also shared that I knew Break was about prison reform but how the fuck do we get people to care about racist systemic reform?! Sex, smudge rock and roll and the ideologies of NDN eroticism came.


This ceremony has a story, song and dance and I wanted to create a ceremony founded on rock - the many planes of what that means, music, elemental with a particular focus on the sexy and gnarly grit of rock and roll. There is a motif in the script that reads, “Look into the rock, into the land, your blood, they speak through the vibrations.” And this beast vibrates.


I also write the Indigenous femmes in the full scope and spectrum of who we are. Break is an act of full contestation asserting that our bodies are not for brutal consumption positioned to be oppressed and endure white imperial violence. Break Horizons is a reclamation and sovereign assertions of Indigenous eroticism and not the imperial contemporary pornographic notion but rather Esther Perel’s version which goes beyond sexuality and means “the qualities of vitality, curiosity and spontaneity that makes us feel alive." Ultimately, Break is a rocking justice story that creates a ceremony for inter-Nations to share space on the impacts of our intersectionalities.


In the photo we have the legend Buffy Sainte Marie, Scarlet Delirium photo by @baevocative

and Aylaylay - Leiah who is playing W in the ceremony.


At the end, I was happy, excited and overwhelmed with emotions, deep feelings with the blood, sweat and tears this piece continues to take. When Coach Kerr said "you are a master" I cried. I didn't expect to cry. I had no idea I would but it felt like a release and honour that Uvic - who has been the greatest institutional supporter of this work up until this point - and they resoundingly said, we bear witness Kim.


And that's what this feels like - a huge witnessing to the work of The Healing Company and ignition to keep going (some exciting production details to share soon!) Until then, I want to thank everyone who came to bear witness gifting me their most valuable resource their time, my Ma and Pa who supported me so much throughout my Masters, my sisters who are my heroes, Pippa for always always cheering me one and my Upper Nicola band for believing I could do this.


And to Coach Kerr, your ongoing support humbles me. Everyone - EVERYONE - needs a champion like Kevin who gives rallying speeches in the depths of winter, listens deeply when we're in the muck and to believe in us. Limelet Kevin for believing in me and always backing that up with resources and tangible support. You set the bar and are most definitely my favourite white dude!


Break Horizons is a ceremony it is sacred and I'm proud of the work The Healing Company and I are doing to defend it.


Deep love,


Kim.


p,s I'm taking a 7 day BREEEEEAAAAAAK! So don't email me. I'm going into some spiritual nourishment and land time to refresh before I start teaching my creative writing course for the UBCOK Indigenous Art Intensive.


p.p.s In an act of complete Matriarchy Darylina Powderface beaded me a set of earrings whilst she was watching my defence. The love, the love - oooh my heart the love.





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